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Dell customers not so keen on Blade Arrays concept

Now that Dell has rolled out its iSCSI EqualLogic Blade Arrays at Dell Storage Forum 2012, customers wonder if they pack enough performance to merit consideration.

BOSTON -- Dell Inc. still has to convince customers that the storage blades rolled out this week at Dell Storage Forum 2012 are a good idea.

When asked about the iSCSI EqualLogic PS-M4110 Blade Arrays that Dell launched Monday, several customers said they’re unsure about the storage blade concept. A few said integrating storage, servers and networking into a condensed system is too new of an approach, while others wondered if it would have the same performance as traditional rack-mounted storage.

“The performance is not there to stick everything in a single box. You would need to stack a ton of them together just to get decent high performance, especially if you have high I/O loads,” said Tibor Pazera, a senior technology specialist at Irvine, Calif.-based Advantage Sales and Marketing LLC and a Compellent customer. “Convergence is nice for ease of deployment, but there’s not enough spindle capacity to maintain high I/O performance.”

Other customers characterize Blade Arrays as unproven.

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Dell introduces EqualLogic storage blade arrays

“We get concerned about risk, partly because it’s new,” said Alex Rodriguez, vice president of systems engineering and product development at Cleveland-based IT services company Expedient Communications. “If a blade chassis has a failure, it’s gone.”

A virtualization and storage architect at a major New York-based retailer, who asked not to be identified, said he “dabbled with the idea, but it’s a bit too new for us.”

Compellent customers crave continuity

Compellent users said they want Dell to go forward with the Copilot support program and roadmap it had before Dell bought the Fibre Channel storage-area network (SAN) vendor for $820 million last year.

Mike Fowler, an IT manager with a company that uses Compellent storage, said he wanted to learn about the introduction of 64-bit architecture and the hardware upgrade. But his company also has concerns about whether there would be any changes to Copilot.

“We wanted to see the roadmap going forward,” he said.

Ben Holbert, an IT administrator with Grand Rapids, Mich.-based health care provider Hope Network, said his organization has been a Compellent customer for six years. He said he’s noticed no change in Copilot, which Dell has pledged to expand into other products.

“We’re hoping things don’t change with Copilot,” Holbert said. “It sounds like they may roll it into their other lines.”

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